Franz Halder was born in 1884
, to a Bavarian artillery
officer named Maximilian Halder, and his wife Mathilde.
In 1902, he joined the army, and was assigned to his father's regiment as a second lieutenant. He joined the Bavarian War Academy, starting in 1911, and remained at his studies until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
During the war, he distinguished himself as a fine staff officer, receiving the Iron Cross 1st Class for his work. Not that it ended up meaning much, Germany lost.
During the post-war years Halder remained a valuable staff officer, being promoted to Major in 1922, and again to Colonel in 1931. It was also in that year that he was given an appointment as Chief of Staff of the military district surrounding Munich.
In 1933, the Nazi party seized power in Germany and Halder found himself facing oversight by a regime which he found distasteful. He remained at his post, and worked himself up the ranks in the quartermaster section of the Supreme Command until he made Lieutenant General.
In 1938, following the resignation of Ludwig Beck, Halder was made Chief of Staff of the German Army. The first Bavarian, and first Catholic, to ever hold that post.
Together with several other top-ranking officers, Halder tried to dissuade Adolf Hitler from starting World War II in 1939. Ever the efficient German though, he also planned the invasions of Poland and France. His disapproval was marked by a distinct lack of zeal and personal attention to the planning of the campaigns. His disagreements with Hitler diminished his standing, and after planning and directing the opening stages of the war against Russia, he was replaced by the less argumentative General Kurt Zeitzler in 1941.
He was not given any new command, and gained himself a new role as a distant member of the group plotting to assassinate Hitler in 1944. After the attempt failed in July of that year, Halder was arrested and sent to Dachau concentration camp, where he remained until January, 1945, when he managed to escape the Red Army to be interned by Americans.
Released that summer, he grabbed a job as Director of the German Department of the Military History Research Office of the United States Army. Not quite as cushy as Wernher von Braun, but not too shabby for one of the guys that tried to destroy the world.
He spent the rest of his life writing critiques of Hitler as a fanatic and strategic idiot, and researching the history of the war.
In 1972, he died in Aschau, in Bavaria.